2016 Impact Rookies: Outfielders (3 of 3)

We’ve been running a series looking at the potential top rookie producers at each position around the baseball diamond for a few weeks now. This series should be valuable for anyone participating in a fantasy league that allows keepers. It could also help anyone playing in more traditional formats who may need to fill holes throughout the season or may be in need of a little spark.

Today, we take our third and final look at freshman outfielders.

Previously:
Catchers
First Basemen
Second Basemen
Third Basemen
Shortstops
Outfielders (1 of 3)
Outfielders (2 of 3)

More Names to Know:

Brandon Nimmo, Mets: There’s no room at the inn in New York so Nimmo will no doubt open the year in Triple-A. He’s also been rehabbing a foot injury, which doesn’t help his case to open the year in the majors. Nimmo, 23, needs some more polish anyway. He hasn’t shown much power or stolen base acumen so his fantasy value is tied almost solely to his ability to hit for average and his ability to get on base. He’ll likely need an injury occur — or Michael Conforto to fall on his face — to see any significant playing time in 2016.

Peter O’Brien, Diamondbacks: Originally a catcher, there aren’t many people who can envision watching O’Brien squat behind the plate regularly at the big league level. He spent most of his time in the outfield last year but he’s limited to the corner outfield due to his lack of speed. His best position would probably be first base but he’s blocked, obviously, by Paul Goldschmidt. O’Brien’s path of least resistance in ’16 is probably Yasmany Tomas – who had a dreadful year in ’15 — but Arizona also has big money tied up in him. The former catcher (who might still catch a bit) doesn’t have a great approach at the plate but he has power to spare. He could top 20 home runs with regular playing time.

Brett Phillips, Brewers: Phillips was the key piece in the trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Michael Fiers to Houston in 2015. He quickly became the Brewers’ centerfielder of the future and may not be far off from The Show when you consider Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Rymer Liriano are the two men holding down the fort. Phillips has excellent speed — as witnessed by his double-digit triples over the past two years but he still has work to do on his base-stealing skills after getting caught 23 times in 63 attempts. If he can make the necessary adjustments, though, and his power continues to develop, he could become a 20-20 threat.

Hunter Renfroe, Padres: Renfroe is an interesting prospect. Power is his best tool but he plays for an organization that makes its home in a very spacious park. He’s just not necessarily the type of player the Padres should be building around. However, he has more than enough raw power to hit the ball out of any park and would obviously be a huge threat on the road. With the left-field picture looking fairly bleak in San Diego, Renfroe could get his shot sooner rather than later — especially if he gets off to a quick start in Triple-A in 2016.

Scott Schebler, Reds: The Reds seemed to be very eager to get their hands on Schebler during the three-team trade that involved former third baseman Todd Frazier during the offseason. It’s curious because he didn’t exactly light the world on fire in 2015 while playing in a good hitters’ league and scouts have never been enamored with his tools. However, the Reds should be able to offer him at-bats in 2016 so he’ll have a chance to prove us wrong. His best tool is his power but he’s a smart baserunner who should also be capable of swiping a few bags.

Mallex Smith, Padres: Smith — with all his speed — is the kind of player the San Diego Padres should be developing and building around (with their spacious park) but he was dealt to Atlanta in 2015. He’ll have a good opportunity to receive playing time with his new (rebuilding) club, although he probably won’t open the year with a clear path to regular playing time. If he gets a chance to play, though, his speed makes him an interesting (and underrated) fantasy target. He’s stolen 57 or more bases in each of three full pro seasons — in part because he hits for average and is also more than willing to take a walk. Smith, 23, could end up being what everyone thought the Reds’ Billy Hamilton was going to be.

Nick Williams, Phillies: One of the Phillies’ key acquisitions over the past year, Williams won’t open 2016 in the Majors but he could be an impact bat before the season is done. He has massive power potential — even though he’s topped out at 17 homers as a professional (four seasons). The power is really what’s going to help him make a name for himself in The Show. He’s hit for average in the minors but Williams has benefitted from above-average BABIPs, which have helped to compensate for his significant strikeout rates.

Jesse Winker. Reds: Winker isn’t a sexy prospect oozing with tools. However, he’s consistently shown the ability to hit for a high average and get on base thanks to a strong eye and patient approach. What Winker hasn’t done, though, is hit for the kind of power most teams covet from a corner outfielder. The young outfielder will likely need some seasoning in Triple-A but the left field job is wide open and the right field picture could become much clearer too if Jay Bruce leaves town this spring.





Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Minimal to no impact for kepler this year? He has O. Arcia and Rosario in front of him in LF. Club traded away Hicks. What are your thoughts on him coming up sonner rather than later? Was hoping for a blurb here but maybe I missed it somewhere else. You think we don’t see him until September?